Like a junkie in need of a fi x — in this case the addiction is cash — Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings will stop at nothing in his quest to get yet another lease on life at the city’s Rapp Road landfill.
Never mind that Jennings has been told more than once to forget it by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which recognizes the ecological significance of the land he wants for his landfill expansion — 12.6 acres of the Pine Bush Preserve, one of the largest inland pine barrens in the world.
The preserve may be less than one-fifth of its original size, but Jennings couldn’t seem to care less. And even though the city has yet to do the mandatory environmental quality review for its proposal, it thought nothing of sending a bulldozer into the preserve in late April to start road-prep work.
Now Jennings has persuaded state lawmakers to file a bill — after the May 30 deadline — that would give tacit approval of the landfill project. In exchange, the city would be committed to buying 30 extra acres for the Pine Bush, and the land would supposedly have to be as good or better ecologically than the added dump land.
There’s something fishy about this rush job. For one thing, it seems premature of the Legislature to be approving anything until the state DEC has signed off. An even better question is, who’ll be the judge to determine whether the land to be obtained later in this little trade will really be any good?
The majority of state lawmakers may not give a hoot what happens to the Pine Bush Preserve, but those representing the Capital Region should. And Albany’s financial needs — it gets $13 million year selling landfill space to its neighbors — don’t justify this kind of sacrifice.